Changing Seasonality of the Arctic: Alteration of Production Cycles and Trophic Linkages in Response to Changes in Sea Ice and Upper Ocean Physics



Significant changes in the arctic environment have been detected in recent years. One of the most striking changes is the decline of arctic sea ice. A diminished arctic ice cover may have a profound effect on all components of the marine ecosystem. Despite the extreme polar conditions, the Arctic Ocean supports a complex pelagic food web that includes zooplankton, fish, birds, seals, walruses, whales and the top predator, the polar bear. At the base of the food chain, supporting all the marine life, are the phytoplankton and algae that produce organic carbon. The central hypothesis of this collaborative research is that reduction in ice cover and the concomitant upper ocean physical changes in response to climate warming will substantially modify and impact the seasonality of the Arctic planktonic marine ecosystem by altering the timing, magnitude, duration, and pattern of production cycles, with effects including changes in primary production, in utilization and cycling of organic carbon, in ecosystem function, and in the relative proportions of biomass in the different ecosystem components. To address this overarching hypothesis, we plan to synthesize model estimates and available field observations retrospectively and predicatively. The model to be developed is a coupled pan-Arctic Biology/Ice/Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (BIOMAS) that aims at an integrated understanding of three components of the arctic system: sea ice, ocean, and the planktonic ecosystem.


Principal Investigator


Jinlun Zhang

University of Washington

Zhang - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Principal Investigator


Yvette Spitz

Oregon State University

Spitz - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Principal Investigator


Carin Ashjian

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Ashjian - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Principal Investigator


Robert Campbell

University of Rhode Island

Campbell - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Co-Principal Investigator


Michael Steele

University of Washington

Steele - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Project Member

Adrienne Antonsen

University of Washington

Antonsen - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Project Member

Connie Ozimek

University of Washington

Ozimek - link to SAM contact for fixing fields.

Journal Publications

Steele, M., J. Zhang, and W. Ermold (2010), "Mechanisms of summertime upper Arctic Ocean warming and the effect on sea ice melt", J. Geophys. Res., 115, C11004, doi: 10.1029/2009JC005849.

Zhang, J., M. Steele, and A. Schweiger (2010), "Arctic sea ice response to atmospheric forcings with varying levels of anthropogenic warming and climate variability", Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L20505, doi: 10.1029/2010GL044988.

Zhang, J., Y.H. Spitz, M. Steele, C. Ashjian, R. Campbell, L. Berline, and P. Matrai (2010), "Modeling the impact of declining sea ice on the Arctic marine planktonic ecosystem", J. Geophy. Res., 115, C10015, doi: 10.1029/2009JC005387.

Panteleev, G., D.A. Nechaev, A. Proshutinsky, R. Woodgate, and J. Zhang (2010), "Reconstruction and analysis of the Chukchi Sea circulation in 1990-1991", J. Geophys Res., 115, C08023, doi: 10.1029/2009JC005453.

Papers Submitted

Johnson, M., A. Proshutinsky, Y. Aksenov, A. Nguyen, R. Lindsay, C. Haas, J. Zhang, N. Diansky, R. Kwok, W. Maslowski, S. Hakkinen, I. Ashik, B. de Cuevas, "Evaluation of Arctic sea ice thickness simulated by AOMIP models", JGR-Ocean, (2011).

Peralta-Ferriz, C., J.H. Morison, J.M. Wallace, and J. Zhang, "A basin-coherent mode of sub-monthly variability in Arctic Ocean bottom pressure", Geophy. Res. Lett. (2011).

Popova, E., A. Yool, A.C. Coward, F. Dupont, C. Deal, S. Elliott, E. Hunke, M. Jin, M. Steele, J. Zhang, "What controls primary production in the Arctic Ocean? Results from an ecosystem model intercomparison", JGR-Ocean (2011).

Schweiger, A., R. Lindsay, J. Zhang, M. Steele, H. Stern, "Uncertainty in Modeled Arctic Sea Ice Volume", JGR-Ocean, (2011).

Steele, M., W. Ermold, and J. Zhang, "Modeling the formation and fate of the near-surface temperature maximum in the Canadian Basin of the Arctic Ocean", JGR-Ocean (2011).

Wang, J., H. Eicken, Y. Yu, X. Bai, J. Zhang, H. Hu, M. Ikeda, K. Mizobata, and J. Overland, "Model-data fusion studies of Pacific Arctic climate and ice-ocean processes", Springer PAR Synthesis Book Chapter 6 (2010).


15 August 2009 to 31 July 2013